Review: Marin Alpine Trail E1 eMTB is a versatile, capable budget performer

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In the world of e-mountain bikes, there’s a roughly $4,000 USD starting point for anything that’s properly trail worthy. And at $4,899, the Marin Alpine Trail E1 sits just above that threshold, yet delivers spec and performance that shows it comes from a fancier pedigree.

We also found that the sizing was very lenient, letting riders from 5’7″ to 6’2″ enjoy our XL test bike, which could make it the perfect eMTB for a household that shares bikes, or if you just wanna bring that buddy along for the ride without crushing them.

It’s a well-equipped 150mm travel mullet ripper that’s on the affordable end of the catalog. Here’s why it’s worth considering…

Alpine Trail E1 tech details

marin alpine trail e1 e-mountain bike review and tech details

The Trail E1 comes with a 160mm travel Rockshox 35 Gold fork and Rockshox Super Deluxe Coil R rear shock. While the Rockshox 35 Gold does sit near the bottom of Rockshox’s hierarchy, there are other 150mm travel e-MTBs that spec the 32mm stanchion Recon fork near this bike’s price point.

The difference in stiffness and performance on a bike in this weight class going from 32mm to 35mm stanchions is huge, and well worth a bit more money. It uses their DebonAir air spring, which is fantastic, and Motion Control damper with external low-speed compression and rebound damping controls.

marin alpine trail e1 e-mountain bike suspension closeup

The coil spring didn’t impress me as much, maybe only be because I’m not as used to them as I am air springs, which I know how to tune to my preferences. Or maybe because the stock coil on Marin’s Large and XL frame sizes has a 200-230lb rider in mind, which is far more than I weigh, even fully kitted out.

Marin told us they “went with a coil to fit in with the performance characteristics of a long travel, aggressive e-bike. It cost a bit more than a comparable air shock, but we feel that it’s worth the expense for the intended rider.”

I didn’t hate it, but I still haven’t found the sweet spot for me. Fortunately, there’s a huge range of preload adjustment and we were still able to make it work well enough for riders as light as 120lbs.

marin alpine trail e1 e-mountain bike review and suspension details

That shock sits inside Marin’s EWS-winning MultiTrack suspension design, which strides smoothly through rough terrain with 150mm of rear wheel travel.

marin alpine trail e1 e-mountain bike controls closeup

Powering you up the mountain is a Shimano E7000 250W motor system with 60Nm of torque. The removable battery is a 504Wh BT-8035, housed entirely inside the downtube. It’s not as powerful as the E2 model’s EP8/630Wh system, but it’s also $1,400 less expensive. That said, if you can spring for the Alpine Trail E2, as a package it offers a very compelling upgrade that is also very well priced for the category.

marin alpine trail e1 e-mountain bike review and tech details

Without fenders, both the bike and the fork are rated for up to 2.8″ tires…and that’s what they spec in the rear:

marin alpine trail e1 e-mountain bike review and tech details

A Maxxis Minion DHR II 27.5 x 2.8″ sits out back, and the front is an Assegai 29 x 2.5″ tire.

marin alpine trail e1 e-mountain bike review and rim-tire width details

It’s not just the tire diameters and widths that are different. Marin specs different width rims to match up with the tires’ girth. The rear is 38mm inside, and the front is 32mm inside, and they’re laced to Shimano hubs.

Both are house-brand alloy rims with pinned joints that have held up well, but they’d probably be the first thing we upgraded. Or, maybe the second:

marin alpine trail e1 e-mountain bike review and cockpit details

Marin specs a super short 35mm stem length with a very wide 780mm alloy riser bar. For our smaller testers, it pushed their arms out comically wide. And even for me at 6’2″ I would have preferred 750-760mm to help wiggle through the trees and around boulders a bit better.

I’d also swap it for a carbon fiber handlebar to soak up a bit of vibration and mute bumps just a bit more. The grips were OK, I’d only replace once they wore out.

marin alpine trail e1 e-mountain bike review and suspension details

Remaining spec includes Shimano MT420 hydraulic disc brakes with 203mm rotors front and rear, Deore 11-46 10-speed cassette, Deore M4100 shifters and 5100 rear derailleur, KMC chain, and house-brand forged alloy cranks with 165mm arms and 38T narrow-wide chainring and e13 Plus chainguide.

Marin Alpine Trail E1 ride review

marin alpine trail e1 e-mountain bike ride review action photo

As one does, the first thing we did was take a relative newcomer to big mountain riding to one of the more technical, steep bike parks in the area. Rocky Knob, near Boone, NC, is brutally tough on the way up, and filled with jumps, drops, chutes, rocks, and roots on the way down. It’s wicked fun, and wicked challenging.

Our friend Grady (5’9″)had a blast, though, riding around the big drops but otherwise cruising right beside us, up and down for a full day. These “photo shoot” rides typically turn into 6-7 hour days, and the bike finished with just a touch of juice left.

marin alpine trail e1 e-mountain bike ride review action photo

Between shots, I borrowed it for a few rips through the rock gardens, too. But it wasn’t until I was back on home trails that I set it up for me and tested it across long root sections. The Trail E1 soaked it all up with grace, staying active over repetitive hits, and kept things under control on drops and jumps.

marin alpine trail e1 e-mountain bike ride review action photo

The low standover (689.8mm on XL, and much lower just above the rear shock) makes the bike easy to maneuver…

marin alpine trail e1 e-mountain bike ride review action photo

…which is great for whipping it between trees and around tight corners, or just getting playful in the air. Again, narrower handlebars would help with some of this.

marin alpine trail e1 e-mountain bike ride review action photo

On a commuter bike, I definitely want all the power I can get. But on most trails, the more affordable e-bike systems used are plenty. They’re pretty much all Class 1 (20mph max) anyway, so the difference is really in the amount of ooomph they can deliver, and more isn’t always better.

I didn’t miss the additional torque or launch speed, so the upgrade from E7000 to a more powerful motor didn’t seem necessary (the better spec and longer battery life, however, do make compelling arguments for pulling out the platinum card). So, don’t fret if this is what’s in your budget, it’s more than enough power and speed for ripping through the trails and getting up the mountain.

marin alpine trail e1 e-mountain bike ride review action photo

While the bike is a good, fun bike that any rider will appreciate. As someone who rides a lot of very expensive bikes, I had a great time on it, and it’s a solid platform for future upgrades. Marin’s suspension design and performance is fantastic, and they’ve translated that onto a very capable eMTB that handles great.

If you’re only buying this for you to use, awesome, stop here and start checking out the geo charts on their website.

What gets me most excited about this bike, though, is that Kristi (5’7″) and Cameron (5’9″) and Grady could all ride it, too.

marin alpine trail e1 e-mountain bike ride review action photo

Meaning, here’s a bike that’s both affordable and fun and let’s me bring a friend or family member along to shred. Or I can take it and go shred with my broskis. One bike, lots of riders, and the opportunity to make it a little more fun for us to all ride together without having to buy a dedicated e-Bike for my shorter associates.

MarinBikes.com

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